The Biggest Scams & Fraud Threats Of 2020: How to Spot Them & Stop Them

Whilst many people go about their lives with nothing but good intentions, there are many others out there who want to take advantage of this. When it comes to your finances, unfortunately, there are many scams and active fraud threats that target people to either get access to personal information or to coerce into sending payments. In the year up until June 2019, the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) estimated there were 3.86 million fraud offences committed against adults. The financial and emotional ramifications this has on the victims can be high, however, the CSEW estimated in the previous year up to March 2018, 31.1% of fraud victims experienced no financial loss. The challenge in the fight against fraud is a continuing one, and 2020 has seen no exception in the way fraudsters are looking for opportunities. Here are some of the biggest scams and fraud threats that you need to be aware of this year and our advice on how to avoid falling victim.

COVID-19 Scams

It seems that not even a global pandemic is enough to stop fraudsters from looking to take advantage, with the continuing coronavirus situation meaning more creative scams. One of these relates to the selling of remedies for the virus or even a ‘cure’ that can range from colloidal silver to cow manure. At the time of writing, there is currently no cure to COVID-19, with a vaccine very much in the development and testing stage. If you see anywhere offering these types of products they should be avoided. Similar scams around COVID-19 include text and emails that offer free gifts as part of easing social distancing, such as offering free smartphones. These types of scam can be avoided by not clicking the link, as it will take you to a site to fill in your personal information that although may look legitimate, can lead to identity theft or worse if bank details are entered. If it seems too good to be true, then you should keep in mind that it probably is.

Be wary of any online shopping scams related to COVID-19 also, including as companies selling protective equipment such as face masks and hand sanitiser that then are never delivered. Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for cybercrime and fraud, have received, since 1 February, 105 reports with total losses at nearly £970,000. The National Crime Agency (NCA) advises the public to research any goods such as these and also any messages related to the government or agencies requesting money. They have already taken down 6 website domains that were exploiting the pandemic using malware and phishing campaigns.Action Fraud, the National Fraud & Cyber Crime Reporting Centre, received 41 reports within just two days in Aprilof a scam email that appears to be from HM Government asking for NHS donations during the outbreak.

Phishing Scams

The FCS has identified phishing and smishing scams to be one of their top 5 financial scam concerns. Whilst phishing relates to email scams, smishing refers to texting scams, and as seen with COVID-19, continue to be one of the most common types of fraud you will come across. Generally, they involve fraudsters claiming to be from somewhere official, such as a bank, and entice the reader to click on the link contained to verify details such as your login and password. The best way to avoid these types of scams is to keep in mind that no bank or lender will ask you to disclose this information. If you receive this type of email or text and you are unsure if it is legitimate, contact the lender directly. At the end of March, phishing scams had reported having spiked by 667% within a month, with 467,825 spear-phishing email attacks, where a fraudster targets a specific organisation or individual with a personalised, researched message.

You can find more helpful information on phishing scams on the Action Fraud website.

Boiler Room Scams and Unsolicited Calls

A boiler room scam is another that looks to take advantage by enticing the victim to quickly pay money. This involves calling people to offer investment opportunities that promise high returns. This type of scam relies on putting pressure on the victim to act quickly and transfer money. The National Crime Agency reported the UK suffers fraud losses of about £190 billion every year, so falling victim to a boiler room scam or any that ask for money can indeed be very costly. Add to this that fewer than 20% of incidents of fraud are reported, the figure could be much higher.

Authorised Push Payment (APP) Scams

As many as 57,549 cases of APP scams were reported in the first 6 months of 2019, which was a rise of 69% in a year. This type of scam is named because the fraudster pretends to be a genuine organisation, such as your bank or even the police, to get the victim to make a payment. According to Experian, more than £145 million has been lost due to APP scams in the first half of 2019.

Remote Access Fraud or Technical Support Scams

Remote access fraud follows a similar route to most other scams, but it instead involves calling a victim to convince them to provide remote access to their computer or laptop. Usually, this involves telling the victim they need to provide access so that they can install software to resolve an issue on their computer. Once access has been allowed, the scammer will then direct the victim to log in to bank accounts or even install spyware to capture more information without you being aware. With remote working becoming more widespread, being aware of this type of scam is important. Action Fraud has also warned against working from home scams, where a scammer offers a job role for easy money that involves paying an advanced fee first.These types of scam work as they provide an attractive proposition of running your own business and making money easily. With a large proportion of the population working from home in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it may become easier for individuals to fall for this type of scam.

Remember to stay vigilant online and if you receive any unusual calls, emails or text. If you think you have been the victim of fraud or have spotted a scam before becoming victim, you can report this to Citizens Advice using their Scams Action Service, or Action Fraud.

At Wizzcash, we want to ensure that your online experience is as safe and secure as possible. If you have a short term loan with us, we will never ask for your personal or login details through an email or text. We abide by the Data Protection Act and take the security of your details very seriously. We also undertake our own checks for the prevention and detection of crime and fraud. If you have any queries, please contact us. For related articles, please see below: